Hundreds of healthcare assistants across trust sites including James Cook hospital and the Friarage hospital could take strike action in a row over pay, says UNISON today (Monday).
The staff have rejected a pay offer from South Tees NHS Foundation Trust because it does not adequately compensate them for years of extra unpaid work, the union says.
According to NHS guidance, healthcare assistants on salary band 2 of the Agenda for Change pay scale should only be providing personal care such as bathing and feeding patients.
However, most support staff at the trust routinely undertake clinical tasks, such as taking blood, performing electrocardiogram tests and inserting cannulas, says UNISON.
The trust has accepted staff perform the more complex duties and has moved them to salary band 3, increasing their annual salary. However, it has only offered two years of back pay.
UNISON says unless the trust agrees to pay staff for the extra work, it will ballot for industrial action. In a recent consultation, 98% of staff said they supported taking strike action if the trust refused to pay up.
UNISON regional organiser Victoria Murray said: “Healthcare assistants have been going above and beyond, despite being underpaid and undervalued.
“Staff are finally being paid properly for the work they do. But the trust needs to pay them fairly for all the extra work they’ve already done.
“The trust needs to do the right thing and pay up to avoid any disruption. Health workers have made it clear they’ll take strike action to secure what they’re owed.”